THE SNP’s governing body is being urged to rerun a controversial “secret” vote which led to Joanna Cherry MP dropping plans to run for Holyrood

The National Executive Committee (NEC) ruled earlier this month that MPs must quit Westminster before launching a bid to become an MSP. 

The party insisted this would minimise disruption for voters, but many saw it as an attempt to stop Cherry running against former SNP deputy leader Angus Robertson for the Edinburgh Central seat. 

In an email to the SNP business convenor and the national secretaryNEC member Dorothy Jessiman raised concerns over the validity of the voting process which led to the decision being made. 

She wrote: “Given that many speakers claimed to be taking a decision of principle the need for a secret ballot seems odd, and certainly would seem to imply that the members were well aware of the probable result of certain options and chose, shamefully, to hide their actions behind a secret ballot.

“More importantly I wish to challenge the use of the single transferable vote and in a form that left no option to abstain from expressing a “preference” on options some of which I found frankly abhorrent.  

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“I was therefore unable to prevent my preferences from contributing to a succession of increasingly unacceptable options including the most extreme. Others must have been similarly placed leaving the final result in dispute.” 

She added: “I am not prepared to accept this or to be seen as a party to it. The only democratic action available to us is for the vote – open – to be retaken and voted on a straight yes/no basis for each option.” 

Jessiman told the Sunday National she would not comment further until she received a response to the letter.

However former SNP senior office bearer Iain Lawson, who published the letter on his blog Yours For Scotland, claimed it reflected widespread concern across the country. 

He said: “I think there is a great many people hoping even now that someone will step in and reverse it. The vote was undoubtedly unconstitutional.” 

After being away from the party for a number of years due to holding the post of Honorary Consul for Estonia, Lawson said he was “stunned” to find there were 42 members of the NEC with many “factional groups”. 

He added: “The whole idea of the NEC is that the people on it are accountable to the ordinary membership and for that to happen you can’t have secret ballots. 

“In all the years I was on it that was never even remotely considered – you vote yes or no and your vote is recorded, so if people want to know how you voted on a certain matter that information is available.” 

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The NEC was also at the centre of a row over MSP James Dornan being blocked from standing for Holyrood next year after it imposed a women-only shortlist in his constituency – reversing the decision shortly after.

SNP councillor Chris McEleny has called for the party’s national secretary Angus MacLeod to resign over the “unfortunate bourach”. 

And in a leaked letter, SNP MP Alyn Smith called the NEC “too big, unwieldy, unfocussed, and as recent events have proven, politically unsound”, but his proposals for change raised concerns over members being “excluded from the top table”.